On Wednesday Guy Steven gave them a revision of crampon and axe skills before climbing Great Gully on Blaven. Amazing weather & views all day-
Today we opted for some sunny rock climbing down at Elgol which culminated in Louis leading his first route in over 5 years.
Chasing my tail a bit just now so apologies for short & sweet blog posts.
James & Joe had their first outing on crampons on Saturday. Immediately after practising ice-axe arrest we found the snow slopes to be steel-hard so had to concentrate fully on the rise and descent to An Dorus.
The short stretch to the summit of Mhadaidh exposed us to the strong winds and we all looked suitably weather-beaten by the time we reached the Old Inn.
Sunday was an even more bitter day, possibly the coldest of the winter. The wind picked up soon after we left the hotel, adding a real intensity to the freezing temperature. Donning more clothes at every break we eventually took shelter in the cave in Coir’ a’ Bhasteir.
Here we concluded that neither open snow slopes nor narrow ridges were a good idea.
Instead we backed down slightly, traversed beneath Sgurr a’ Bhasteir and enjoyed some sunny scrambling on dry rough gabbro onto Meall Odhar.
This minor summit is a rounded grassy knoll but also happens to be one of the most impressive view-spots on Skye. We took in stunning views of Pinnacle Ridge, the north face of Sgurr a Bhasteir, Bruach na Frithe, Outer Hebrides, Red Cuillin, Torridon etc etc until we had nearly refrozen.
The gallery is a mix of the 2 days; hopefully in order-
Damp mist was clinging to Skye this morning so we headed inland to find the Glen Shiel tops mostly clear of cloud; good result.
We opted for the classic Forcan Ridge and were rewarded with a truly apline day with a mixture of dry rock, mixed climbing and a fine snow arete to finish.
We skipped the usual descent east towards Sgurr na Sgine. Instead we doubled back from the summit headed directly north down the glen before traversing back below the cliffs to rejoin the approach path. With the snow so perfect it was an easy variation that was also far quicker.
Our descent was pretty much straight down the snow slopes from the peak before cutting out left.
The clients certainly seemed happy with it all:)
Broad Gully on Sgurr a Bhasteir is still holding plenty of well consolidated snow despite the thaw.
The mists still swirled around as we topped out so we skipped continuing up to the summit.
Descending to the lochan in Coir’ a’ Bhasteir we were greeted by the sight of 25+ members of Skye MRT all brandishing avalanche probes.
I’ve been spoilt with quality days recently but yesterday was right up there with the very best. Hard to say why but good company, a fresh covering of snow, an easy ice climb turning out to be serious, top out in the sun, knife-edge snow arete, blood-red snows and a moonlit descent all played their part.
The Amphitheatre held a huge dump of avalanche debris from last weeks washout.
As the mists cleared the ice pitches began to look pretty challenging.
4 sketchy pitches followed with just enough ice and protection to justify not reversing 200m of steep snow slope. The top-out was a relief combined with all the aesthetics of incredible views, sunshine and clear skies.
We opted to continue over the summit via the final 100m of the north ridge. This was the highlight as the snow arete dropped away on both sides and a combination of au cheval (leg either side bum shuffle), crawling and tightrope walking led to even more stunning vistas from the summit.
Descent from An Dorus still required concentration and effort but finally we were able to remove crampons and enjoy the darkening descent. Just as clarity was fading the moon provided an enormous burst of light rose from behind the Ridge; I genuinely thought that one of the guys had put a head-torch on!
Enjoy the gallery-
Mark and Brian were up to the challenge and everything went to plan.
Roping across the exposed snow on the Tourist Route was probably the most gripping and descending the same way unattractive.
Numerous exposed rocks offered up good anchors and the crest of narrow snow on the final 100m felt far less serious than what we had already crossed.
Weaving from side to side of the crest, mostly on rock, made the descent feel controlled but the final abseil came as a relief from the ankle twisting.
Descending together from Bealach a’ Bhasteir to the lochan was easier than I had feared and finally removing crampons on the lip of the corrie was like putting on a pair of slippers! Good day in the office!
The stunning weather today belied the serious nature of the snow conditions. Rock hard on the rise out of Coire na Banachdaich became a wee bit slushy on the descent to the foot of the Pinn and then deep and unconsolidated on sunny slopes by the end of the day. Not a complaint but, with a perfect forecast, it is certainly a warning to concentrate through the week ahead.
Enjoy the pics-
Cracking first day with James, Sam & Josh. Strong wind kept us away from the ridges but we made great time up Coir’ a’Bhasteir, dodged quickly through Bealach na Lice and sneeked up onto the summit of Sgurr a Fionn Choire without getting blown off.
Highlight of the day was the superb bumslide from the bealach which took us down over 1000 feet in a couple of minutes. The snow as just the right consistency but may be too hard in another day or 2 for such indulgence:)
Snow conditions are thinned out but what’s left is consolidating rapidly now that we have some clear skies. Shame all the ice washed away but there’s gonna be some great days on the Ridge ahead.
Rugby took precedence over blogging this weekend but below is a gallery of the 2 days out Paul, Martin & Damien enjoyed with early starts so matches weren’t missed.
Great Gully on Saturday was superb again with amazing ice formations hanging on the south walls. Harder work because of the snow that had drifted over from the north earlier in the week but it built up an appetite for the pub:)
On Sunday Sgurr an Fheadian looked quite black from below but was holding plenty of fresh powder which made the ascent pretty challenging.